Watchdog praise joy

PUBLISHED: 16:35 10 August 2008 | UPDATED: 09:28 10 June 2010

SUNDAY, AUGUST 10: COUNCIL bosses have been praised by a Government watchdog after new figures showed improvements in the way East Devon District Council dealt with disgruntled residents. In the annual letter from the local Government Ombudsman, EDDC was praised for their o

COUNCIL bosses have been praised by a Government watchdog after new figures showed improvements in the way East Devon District Council dealt with disgruntled residents.In the annual letter from the local Government Ombudsman, EDDC was praised for their overhaul of procedures.A previous letter had shown EDDC to be at the lower end of the league tables among district councils for complaint handling.From March 2007 to March 2008, 47 complaints were received, seven more than the previous year, but the letter from ombudsman Mr J R White said that he saw "nothing significant" in the increase - and put it down to-year-on year fluctuations.Just over half of the complaints, 29, were concerned with planning and building control, up from nine - but again he said there was "no significance".He said: "We cannot question what a council has done simply because we do not agree with it."If we find something has gone wrong, such as poor service, service failure delay or bad advice and that person has suffered, the Ombudsman aims to get it right by recommending a suitable remedy."He added in that event an investigation was held then a report was written - and 'no reports' were issued. A local settlement occurs when a council agrees to settle with a complainant - and this happened once when EDDC paid £100 in compensation when a driver received a parking ticket for overstaying, but was not sent a reminder letter or advised that he could make 'representations'.Mr White said the driver was 'surprised' when issued with a summons and said: "EDDC accepted somewhat reluctantly my recommendation to make a payment of £100 to the complainant for his time and trouble and the worry of receiving a demand from bailiffs for a debt of which he was unaware." Mr White also said the council's average response time to complaints of 27 days met the target of 28 days with just two exceptions.A EDDC spokesman said: "The council continually strives to improve its service to its customers and, whilst we recognise that not everyone feels we always get it right, we are pleased the Ombudsman has recognised our efforts to investigate and respond to any complaints levelled against us.

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